First, some quick notes:
• The TCM broadcast of ‘Van Beuren Cartoons‘ with be run on December 7th Sunday night 12/7 at midnight(EST)/9pm (PST). Tune in and see beautiful copies of Van Beuren shorts (like Sunshine Makers, Pastrytown Wedding and A Little Bird Told Me) plus Esbaugh’s Wizard of Oz.
• Make sure to check out Tom Stathes’ article from yesterday on ‘Cartoon Carnival- the Documentary‘ Support this cool project!
• Perhaps as your reading this, I’ll be transferring some films for an upcoming set. I’m super excited to share some of the these as soon as I can…
Now, onto today’s cartoon!
Maybe the first Columbia ‘Scrappy’ cartoon I saw was Holiday Land (1934). I bought a 16mm Black and White print from a one of the well-known dealers that used to sell in the big reel, and it was an immediate favorite of mine. I really never thought I’d see it in color, knowing how rare it would be to find a print.
I ran an ad in the big reel selling off some of my 16mm and super 8mm films, and I put a ‘wanted’ section at the bottom, including wanting to find Holidayland in color. Funny enough, I got a note back offering a brand new print for sale-in color! It turns out it was a ‘reduction’ print, and quite nice.
Holidayland is the first of the ‘Color Rhapsodies’ series. It produced in 1934 in two color Technicolor, using the two color system very nicely with beautiful watercolor backgrounds. It’s an odd cartoon in that Scrappy abandons his usual grumpy brother-hating self in favor of a more innocent-childlike wonder. The usual route of 30s animation (when it comes to children) seems to be that children that are good (or especially poor) have wonderful things happen to them; Columbia/ Mintz seems to nearly always distort these values, replacing them with bad guys often winning, anger being the only way to solve anything, and, regardless, punishment to all in the end in some form.
In Holidayland, Scrappy makes the statement upon waking that ‘If every day was a Holiday, he’d never get out of bed’. He’s rewarded for his laziness in not getting up on time for school.. and that’s a good thing, because he treats himself and us to a fantastic world that contains every American-celebrated Holiday, all in display room situations that look similar to store windows. Columbia’s gags are often a bit odd as well. Father Time acts as Scrappy’s guide to the odd tiny world of Holidays, dancing with him at each juncture. As they toast at the end of the cartoon, the tiny residents of Holidayland gather to congratulate Scrappy, singing about how much they love him and that he’s a boy that ‘lives for fun’ (I wonder if they would be singing that to them if they knew he planned to spend every day in bed!). It’s a rare appearance of Scrappy without his little brother Oopy; perhaps Scrappy had him eliminated so he wouldn’t have to share the joys of Holidayland.
I’ve always considered this kind of a Christmas cartoon. Here it is in color and HD (make sure to turn on the HD if your computer is fast enough!
Next week: A guest column by Chris Buchman highlighting some wonderful Christmas movies on the home screen!